Friday, August 31, 2007

Ten Years After

It is the last day of August and the ten year anniversary of my finest depression. It coincided with the death of Diana ex-Princess of Wales, and I wrote about it here.

It's no secret that I have suffered serious depression in my life, and I have no shame in telling of my journeys through the underworld of mental anguish; indeed I believe it is the duty of all sufferers to report back from the brink as best they can, for the benefit of those who need healing, that the light is still available to them whether or not they pay their personal electricity bill.

Knowledge of the underworld does bring with it certain responsibilities, the result of hard-won knowledge, not the least being that the darkness is only a shadow, and movement is inevitable, so that sooner or later, the obstruction between you and the glowing metaphor of contentment will no longer be there. Ten years on, I am much less susceptible to depression than ever I was, and less scared by the facts of the human condition. Fall seven times, stand up eight, goes the Japanese proverb.

I think I have just enough time to make another music podcast before I head off to Birmingham to celebrate being Deek Deekster.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wank Holiday

A couple of days back, we were with some friends who are visiting London from a country far away where the sun always shines brightly and clouds are notable events. We were eating a delicious al fresco breakfast in the unconventional English sun, and they very kindly placed us on the sunny side of the table, so that our pale skin could receive the rays it needs to make sufficient vitamin D for the winter months. Conversation turned to the Notting Hill carnival which takes place over the late August public holiday. As I referred to it as the bank holiday, I observed a quizzical expression cross one of our visitor's faces.

Explain the meaning of this phrase, she asked. Bank Holiday?

Life is so much improved by the imagination. When people ask me innocent questions, there is a happy devil inside me - not such a bad devil, aiming to destroy you and steal your everlasting soul, more a small imp, who gleefully seizes upon the opportunity to plant ideas in fertile minds for the sake of entertainment. I'm with Bukowski who said that what people want is beautiful lies.

Thus, the Wank Holiday was born.

I explained that in this country, just as the Christians took all the Pagan holidays for their own, and built their patriarchal churches next to the growing green temples of the old Earth Goddesses, at one time, before sexual repression had been landed on these shores by that upstart middle-eastern import religion, self-pleasuring was accepted as a necessary human function.

Before the invention of physical shame, Wanking (aka masturbation) assisted in the smooth functioning of sexuality in all respects throughout society. It helps the individual to learn about their body, and find their own pleasure. Wanking prevents the build up of sexual frustration which can in extreme cases lead to sexual violence; it assists the attainment of fulfillment with unskilled but enthusiastic lovers; it calms the body before sleep; it helps in the treatment of migraine, depression and asthma.

Before priests and so-called righteous men (always men) arrived to blame women and burn unbelievers, wanking was normal, natural and celebrated. Each year, a great festival would be held to mark the scratch of the cosmic itch, with street parties, feasting, music and dance. People would dress up in costume and glorify the sexuality of the whole person, and for the period of carnival, the Wanking Queen and King would be crowned, parading, masquerading, but never invading, touching themselves but never each other, and the everyday behaviour of the human race was acceptable and all people were proud, until on the third day, costumes were removed, inhibitions flung to the wind, everyone would go to bed and have fabulous sex. Except those without partners, who of course, did what they always did, and had sex with themselves.

Is that not so much better than the truth? Which is that in the country where the the dollar was invented and pound sterling is King, for anyone to to take a break, the banks have to physically shut.

You know that thing you do with your hands? Very good.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Brighton Beach, Skimming Stones

You have to kiss a lot of frogs, the saying goes, before you catch herpes simplex; and you have to skim a lot of stones before you catch the flat water at just the right angle with the right circular pebble, and watch it bounce: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12...

The best stones, like all stones, disappear, and the more successful you are, the further they go. After the throw, you only have the satisfaction of the count, the memory.

There is a Peanuts cartoon I have always loved, in which Charlie Brown throws stones into the water with a look of happy satisfaction. Lucy, watching, remarks, that stone took a million years to get there, and now you've thrown it back, to Charlie's dismay. But there is something extremely egalitarian and universal and ageless and sublime about the throwing, the skimming of stones. It is open to all, completely absorbing and completely and utterly free.

When I take pictures, I take many. Yesterday, I took seventy two, and shot three phone camera movies. I average about 750 images a month, maybe about 30 mini-movies. Some of them are good. Like stones, and frogs, the more you take, the greater chance you have of catching the moment. But the real secret is just to sense the moment approaching, and be ready before the singular opportunity it offers.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Colour Needs U

Britain has been under grey clouds for the past three months. Bad weather is something in which we claim to specialise. We need every drop of sunlight chroma we can get.

So we go the extra mile to ensure that collective spirits are not too depressed by the lack of colour.

The café sports in Hove a cheery table covering, Haywards Heath train station resembles an art gallery, and even dowdy Holloway Road is in line to win the annual inter-village competition. "Holloway In Bloom" would have been an urban joke in a time of rural nightmare, after massive crop failure due to flooding, and an outbreak of foot and mouth from the very laboratory supposed to prevent it.

Now that we've worked on the spelling, let's get the pronunciation right, shall we?

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Your Knowledge Will Not Save You

After a break of years, I've returned to the practice of meditation, and it's having some direct results on my sense of myself, my well being, and my dreams.

In the days, I am calmer. My body and mind feel definitely more aligned. Small aches and pains, both psychological and physical, are diminished, and I am able to address difficulties with greater application. However my dreams are full of holes, like a fucking cosmic colander, and I am suddenly cast in a series of short, scary films starring various aspects of myself, in scenarios including: murder, threat, hiding, being starved of oxygen, and sophisticated theft using explosives as part of a team.

Each dream presents me with conundrums which survive into waking life; it is as though my morals were being paraded before me, my self-knowledge ruthlessly exposed via convincing but trite narratives, each casting a subtly different light on the chaos within me, hidden under several layers of carefully organised intellect, which which the honest inventory I am wont to make is now revealing.

Sometimes, after meditation, as after wakening, I am left with a key phrase or vision which follows me into the day, and today's post-meditation phrase is the title of this post. My knowledge of myself will not save me from having to experience these dream scenarios; indeed I believe that there are reasons, probably related to my deeper health, which are causing this current spate of night dramas. Superficially, it's the move. Moving is third in stress terms, so they say, after berievement and divorce.

Beneath that, it's the fact that I have noticed unavoidable truths about myself, my life, my direction, my position, and the meditation process is a magnifying glass. Since I hate sleeping pills, and my gorgeous girlfriend doesn't mind me waking her up if I need to relate something in order to externalise it, then I'll bear with it for now, and presume that this, too, will pass.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Twodge is a word which many find useful, and yet which so far has defied all definition; and this is perhaps the best indicator of Twodge to date - the meaning of the word has been obscured by prurience and confusion in almost all recorded annals.

Etymological claims have been made with reference to Cassells Dictonary of Slang relating the word Twodge to various archaic descriptors of pudenda, such as the well-known twat which dates back to the 17th Century, and similar versions such as twatchel, twachel, twachylle, twachil, twachit, twitchet, and twittle; and there is also the confusion of the "a" and the "o" as in the north western English vernacular used in Liverpool / Birkenhead / Merseyside, where Twodge becomes Twadge as in, "stinks like granny twadge".

However, despite these possible origins, the clearest indicator that Twodge is in all probability removed from these vulgar and presumed derogatory uses is to be found in the common substitution of homonyms, or related sounds, one for another, which persists in the English language, as used by the English themselves to this day. In context, meaning is opaque to everyone except the native speaker, whose mother tongue equips him or her with the ability to impart shades of meaning via rhyme, including internal rhyme, and the conflation of words; and this practise extends far further afield than the well-known Thames estuary-originated Cockney Rhyming Slang.

To define Twodge and accurately assess its meaning, one needs to search within the sound of the word, and this is best begun by clearly enunciating the word aloud, and then by breaking the word down into its component parts, each of which gives clues as to meaning.

It is important not to be to fixed upon the two letters beginning the word - "TW" - as in rhyme, the middle and end of a word have more value. It is also important to note common slang usage in other words as these impact upon the use of sounds as descriptors, sometimes with onomatopœia giving further indication as to meaning.

From the perspective of the central part of the word, "ODG" Twodge sounds like bodge or dodge and may include aspects therefore of either of these word's meaning. Given its common, street origins, it is unlikely to relate to the word lodge with the meaning of this word stemming from hunting and masonry; however it may be related to the word splodge. All of these words carry common elements - bodge = to mess up (botch); dodge = to avoid or escape; splodge = a messy splat.

Next we must also look at the "DGE" part of the word, which allows us to vary vowels, so that the "O" may become "A" or "U". So, to broaden the search, we should include (as above) twadge which is a humourous conflation of twat and vag (abbreviation of vagina); fudge, and budge. Note that fudge has two meanings: a sweet confectionery, and also, to blur differences, or to deliberately confuse - so it is similar to bodge in this way. Indeed, one might bodge a repair job and then fudge the report to obscure the bodge.

Twodge is a word with multiple meanings, most of which fall within a specific area, and many of which refer to mess, stickiness, and confusion. Sexual inferences may have much to do with human tendency to find multiple ways of referring to the body within the repressive strictures of society's sexual taboos, and it is possible that Twodge became another substitute word for the intimate parts of the female anatomy after the fact of its usage in the context of mess or making mistakes. However, the sexual connotation is by no means the first and foremost.

From analysis deriving from my first-hand experience of usage, I have formed the opinion that Twodge seems to fulfill a wide variety of purposes, not by any means all vulgar. Like twat it may be used as a term of relative endearment without great insult, but unlike twat does not carry any particular association of immediate insult. To say Twodge in public does not cause offense, although it may raise an eyebrow or two. Twodge has a comic association which may be deemed light-hearted, and can be used safely in all manner of public situations, and as a word it certainly deserves elevating to dictionary status, although, being twodge, it will probably remain elusive and difficult to ultimately categorise.

See also:

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Funk, Wikipedia, Dragons and Cheese

Once upon a funky time, in a galaxy far, far away - America as we like to call it - I decided that since I had written funk songs, toured with a funk band, written Blog of Funk for a couple of years, and produced a Funk podcast for many months and pleased many music fans, I would take it upon myself to edit the section of Wikipedia pertaining to the greatest and sexiest genre of music in the world, namely, Funk.

Funk is the smell of sex. It has been transmogrified by prudes into meaning the smell of fear, or even fear itself; but this is a later, uptight, scared, white definition which has nothing to do with the physical celebration of men and women going at it. Less prurient cultures have often laid claim to products of the sexual act in this way. The ancient Chinese considered that Jade, precious stone, was the combined love juices of dragons, making love in the air, fallen to earth and solidified.

Aside from this glaring omission, I saw that Wikipedia made no mention of the early funk bands which were prominent in the UK in the late 1980s / early 1990s and so having first hand experience of this, and considering myself to be therefore in a perfect position to expand the definition, I created myself an account, learnt the ropes, and thus began my first and only period of editing this much maligned, sprawling edifice of online information and misinformation, joining the illustrious ranks of the CIA, the US Democratic Party, and the Vatican.

My mistake was soon evident. I was taken to task by Wiki pedants, who objected because I added a link to my own podcast. Despite the fact that Craig Charles' BBC Radio show also had a link (since removed) and was being referred to as an authority on the subject - and remember, I was only claiming authority on one specific period of UK Funk of which I have direct experience and first-hand knowledge, which was not in the article (and still isn't) - I utterly failed to make any lasting impact. I came to see that Wikipedia, far from being a friendly, cooperative joint venture in which democracy rescues meaning from grammarians, is a pit of snakes.

I realised quite quickly that for my information to to remain in place, I would have to enter into the endless minutiae of "rationale" which goes on behind the Wiki scenes, scenes populated by all the librarians who never won at sport, never had the courage to sing on stage, and cannot dance to save their lives. Like scientists and home improvement retailers, their confidence stems from winning intellectual arguments, not from actual knowledge. It doesn't matter whether or not you can play bass, it matters whether you can find an online reference for a citation. It doesn't matter that you can tap out a polyrhythmic structure just using your arms, legs and mouth which gets the place jumping, it matters whether or not you can beat the other guy with your relentless returning to the rules, which are many. Wikipedia has nothing to do with music, it has to do with text. It is like using a landslide to define a football game.

After several interchanges with more experienced Wiki editors, in which I defended my link, pointed out that there were entirely relevant sections in my audio podcast which compare and contrast strands of Funk - "unique resources" - and stood up for my right to be, in my limited way, an authority on the subject, I realised, that this fight for definition supremacy nothing but a huge game, played by professionals, which I was bound to lose, unless I dedicated the rest of my life to winning it.

The final, insulting straw was the following put-down:

"Funk" is too broad a category for individual music programs to be helpful to an encyclopedia article. Linking these podcasts are comparable to linking a portrait photographer's website from Humans. --Dystopos 00:44, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

This was the final paragraph in my attempt to play Wikipedia:

"There's a lot of analysis which is relevant to definition of the modern genre, or I wouldn't have bothered with Wiki. You'd actually have to listen to the content rather than just take a quick peek at the webpage to see that... despite this I am not certain that I will be able to find the time to contribute in this context - too much like pedantic bickering! blessings Deekdeekster 07:39, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

With that exasperated chiding, I exited Wikipedia for good, probably not pursued by all the victorious know-better-thans in the online world, the CIA and the Vatican, but they will have to prove it.

There is still no adequate reference to that glorious period in British music history when the flag of Funk was flying high, with acts such as Microgroove and drummers like Neil Conti keeping faith with the irresistable groove. Still, I learned something, other than the fact that this club for guardians of meaning with too much time on their hands is not for me; the first recorded use of funky is in 1784 in a reference to musty, old, moldy cheese.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

The Islington Bubble

At the weekend, I took my mobile phone and made a 20 minute video about Islington, the urban district in which I live, which I am leaving shortly.

It's interesting; one of the most read posts in the whole funky Blog of Funk is Holloway Road, which gives me a super Google ranking, from which I should probably be making money. So, I'm conscientiously giving the tale legs leading the casual visitor towards information they might not expect.

Subversive? Moi? Nah, mate, this is London.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

George Harrison Levitates Car

George Harrison, dead since November 2001, returned in spectacular fashion to comment on an inexplicable car crash in Basingstoke, England, UK, four years after his death.

When a red BMW mysteriously took off from street level and smashed into the upper level of a house, George was found living next door to the Harman family, whose house was partially destroyed by the impact.

Harrison was quoted as saying the incident was "just absolutely incredible. The fence has been knocked down and the car's gone through a pathway, a signpost, a tree and the front lawn. How this happened I shall never know."

Harrison has yet to comment on his reincarnation in Basingstoke, or that the reportedly missing third person was his fellow dead Beatle, John Lennon.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Facebook, Fascistbook, Fastbuck

In Facebook, love costs just one dollar, which is either very cheap indeed, or massively over-priced, depending on your views. I've recently become fascinated with the fascination that other people are showing for this fast-growing social networking site. Apparently sane and intelligent people seem to enjoy this "walled garden" so much that businesses are banning its use in the workplace.

Facebook is indeed the educated person's MySpace -its clean lines and regulated interface a contrast to the teenage-bedroom style of similar websites. But, the dark side of Facebook is beginning to emerge. Is it actually amoral, in that Facebook allows groups such the far right BNP to operate unchecked, and contains groups encouraging anorexia in young people? And is this walled garden so very secure and safe? Recent glitches meant that emails and instant messages, none of which are supposed to leave the site, ended up in the wrong place, and caused real emotional problems and at least one relationship breakdown.

Internally, Facebook seems to be full of geeks in a fever of video messaging, crowing about the wonder of the system, the "traction", the "community" - micro-media exponents galore, commenting glibly one after another on the cleverness of their own high-tech take on this new world. I find myself on a deep level uneasy about this activity - are there not more important things to be concerned about than which tech conference to visit next and who to drink with when you are there?

Yesterday, it was announced that the Yangtse River dolphin was "probably extinct". I've not seen any webcam flash videos posted up in Facebook on this sad ending of life, an issue which most Facebookers seem to be failing to recognise, let alone take action, but then, maybe I've joined the wrong groups.

For me, Facebook is fraught with issues which mean I cannot trust it. Not only are there real issues about the ownership of content you create within the site - they own it, you don't, and even if you delete your account, they own the archive - the incredible amount of personal detail people are prepared to divulge, tantamount to saying, "I'm just popping out now, keys are under the porch" indicate a level of security unconsciousness which I find scary.

But joining groups within Facebook which relate to my real concerns? I don't think so. I don't mind belonging to "Bring Back Les Dawson" or starting a cause called "Podcasting", but, we live in the era of surveillance, and I live in the middle of the most surveilled society in the world. "They" already know too much about me, as far as I am concerned - and I'm not doing anything I need to hide. It feels so safe inside this walled garden - despite the holes - and this provides the same illusory sense of security as the developed world's wealth does. So, we feel safe, and we are safe, until the next regime change, when dissidents, free-thinkers and intellectuals will be only too easy to find, round up, and remove in the name of security.

I think it was Spike Milligan who said, "Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't after me."

Read more about Facebook by looking at my links

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Six Hundred and Seventy

Here it is, the post I said I would never write. Funk knows I intended to completely stop, and I sort of did, for over a month.

Stopping gave me the excuse to take stock and go back over my past work, also to assess the impact that writing Blog of Funk had not just on myself, the personal journey, but also the almighty blogosphere. I admit I had become disconsolate and saw no point in continuing to write. So, I just checked in with my bad self, so to speak, and sorted quite a a few things out while I was at it.

I remember that once I gave up music. I stopped writing music entirely. In fact, it was just this time that coincided with my discovery of what was then called multi-media, which soon became internet media, back in the days of Web 1.0 when pages were grey and text was black and links were blue (not followed) or purple (followed). Netscape was the browser of choice. We delighted in the misuse of the BLINK tag. Tables were revolutionary when they arrived, much like Mr Chippendale.

During this time, I consciously wrote and recorded no songs. This, bear in mind, after a period of 14 years in which I did practically nothing but record, write, rehearse, gig, and pursue like countless other dreamers before me a life of funk stardom, which was to be, eventually, just not when and how I expected it to be. Out of sync with the times, my dreams fizzled and popped, and I found myself in 1994 sitting in front of a Mac, pointing, clicking, dragging, dropping, and learning the basic HTML which propelled me into a new world of design and the internet. Within six months, I had a business, within eight months, I was on national television, part of the brave new world of technology.

Six years later, when circumstances completely unrelated to the dot com doom which devasted the online world at the end of the 1990s stopped me in my tracks, I found myself going over my past work, much as I have just done. To my surprise, I found myself listening to the songs I thought I had not written. There they were, neat, orderly, as always, decently produced sketches, surprisingly emotional; and I could not honestly remember much about writing them.

I guess I had not valued them enough to play them to anyone, or bother to professionally publish them, even though I had enough faith in my writing and singing ability to record them. As far as I was concerned, I was not making music, ergo, they didn't exist. Except, they did exist, because I still have them.

I guess the music was making itself, and that, I think, is the way forward.

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